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Abe’s constitutional revision plan difficult pursue in 2019: Komeito

TOKYO — The leader of the junior party in Japan’s ruling coalition said Monday he thinks it will be difficult for lawmakers next year to deal with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ambitions to revise the country’s pacifist Constitution.


Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of the Komeito party, noted that there will be a series of important events in Japan in 2019, including Emperor Akihito’s abdication, the Group of 20 summit and the Rugby World Cup.


“It will be hard to find political leeway” to work toward a consensus on constitutional revisions, Yamaguchi said during an event organized by Kyodo News.


In a policy speech to mark the opening of the ongoing Diet session last month, Abe expressed his strong desire to present his party’s draft amendment of the supreme law to parliament.


But Yamaguchi also pointed out that the commissions on the Constitution in both Diet chambers have not started their debates on the issue as the Liberal Democratic Party, led by Abe, has not presented its amendment proposal.


Revising the supreme law requires approval by two-thirds majorities in both chambers of parliament, followed by majority support in a national referendum.


“Such a prerequisite still seems far away,” Yamaguchi said.


Abe, whose last term as LDP president expires in September 2021, is aiming to realize his long-cherished goal of revising the war-renouncing Article 9 of the supreme law, which bans the maintenance of war potential, to put an end to academic debate over the constitutionality of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.


The Constitution came into force in 1947 during the U.S.-led postwar occupation and has never been amended.

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